A New World Requires New Skills, But Technology Can Even the Playing Field for Latino SMBs

 |   Jose Gomez Cueto, Director, Small, Medium Business Segment Leader, Microsoft

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When the world is rapidly changing, entrepreneurs need to as well. Although the pandemic continues to impact communities across the globe, experts agree the worst is behind us.  As we cautiously look towards a brighter future, both Latino individuals and SMBs need solutions that empower them to evolve and confront new realities we face as a society.  Large enterprises have sophisticated software, massive HR departments and IT solutions, but what about the little guy?  The path to prosperity begins with technological adoption, including a pivot to hybrid work, mastering new tools and skills, and an increased focus on security. As economic recovery begins, Latino SMBs will be the driving force of economic prosperity for our community, and growth engines in a new digital marketplace.

In this shifting environment, a “do-it-yourself” culture has emerged with the growing use of low-code tools that enable anyone, regardless of technical ability, to quickly build apps. During the pandemic, organizations discovered how low code tools enabled workers to quickly create apps and automations to serve customers in new ways and keep their workforce engaged in a remote environment. There simply weren’t enough professional developers to meet the sudden demand for new solutions in a changed environment, and the app gap will only get bigger.  Microsoft projects that more than 500 million apps will be built in the next five years and of those apps, the demand for mobile apps is growing five times faster than IT departments can deliver. This surge in low-code makes sense, as SMBs search for business continuity and a mechanism to continually update their systems, customer offerings and products without the time structure which proved costly in the past.  Low-code tools also appeal to professional developers by enhancing their productivity and freeing up time for major projects.

Microsoft’s Power Platform is a suite of low-code tools that enables anyone to build apps and automations to streamline their work. Another strength of the platform is its ability to equip companies with enterprise-grade solutions when they need them the most.  Entrepreneurs can now eliminate repetitive tasks, amplify their data, and deliver more engaging customer experiences.

Although our current environment more than a year into the pandemic creates new challenges, the need for a skilled workforce is nothing new.  With that in mind, Microsoft brought together every part of the company including LinkedIn and GitHub and launched a global initiative in June 2020 to enhance the digital skills for 25 million people economically impacted by COVID-19. Nine months later, 30 million people across 249 countries had been reached.

At its core, Microsoft’s global skills initiative benefits those who’ve been impacted the most, including SMB owners and their employees. Free access to learning paths can help them acquire the digital skills needed in this rapidly shifting environment, as businesses owners seek to adapt their business models and look towards their economic recovery. In addition, as SMBs position themselves to remain competitive in a more digital economy, finding employees who have the digital skills needed can be a challenge. The skills initiative can help bridge that gap.

There’s the example of Jinny Riddle, a Latina small-business owner from El Paso, Texas, a participant in Microsoft’s global skills initiative. Her experience with LinkedIn Learning through Microsoft gave her new skills, from learning to manage her business to becoming a better business leader. To learn more about her story and skilling journey see her on Telemundo’s “Hoy Día.”

This past summer, Microsoft once again reinforced its commitment to helping SMBs build their digital skills with the launch of a pilot program in U.S. The initiative collates skill-building resources from across the Microsoft ecosystem to make it easier for SMBs to implement forward-thinking strategies for their organization’s success.

The pandemic has been unprecedented in many ways, but one of its main characteristics is a total blindness to geography, race, wealth, and culture.  The health consequences spared no country, nor segment of society.  In that same vein, the positive recovery that now begins for the Latino business community should operate with the same equity for all.  Thanks to new approaches such as low-code and digital skills initiatives, SMBs are armed with the tools they need to compete in the big leagues and even the playing field.

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